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November 25, 2020

World renews political, financial commitment to Afghanistan

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November 25, 2020

KABUL: The international community at the Afghanistan Conference 2020 in Geneva on Tuesday renewed its financial and political commitment to Afghanistan for another four years.

The 2020 Afghanistan Conference is the last pledging conference of the Transformation Decade (2015-24), which aims to take the country towards self-reliance, and is expected to renew the international community and Afghan commitments to the development and stability of Afghanistan up to 2024. Over 100 countries and international organizations participate in the two-day conference.

Although, an exact amount of money pledged by the donors is not clear so far, but the Afghan government expects that the world would pledge $4 billion in aid to Afghanistan per year as part of their financial assistance for civilian purposes.

Although, some countries did not mention the level of their assistance to the country, but the European Union (EU) and countries like Japan, UK, Canada, Holland, Australian, Turkey, Norway, Denmark, Ireland, Sweden, Italy, and France announced their aid to Afghanistan for one, three- and four-year period.

“Donors so far have pledged $4 billion annually for Afghanistan,” said Abdul Habib Zadran, the Afghan Deputy Minister of Finance. President Ashraf Ghani in his speech thanked the international community for its support and highlighted his policies towards sustaining Afghanistan’s development.

“On behalf of the Afghan people, I would like to thank the international organizations who have worked with us over the years to advance our development agenda, including the Asian Development Bank, the European Union, the IMF, and the World Bank, and all of the bilateral donors for whom Afghanistan has consistently been among their top priorities, including our foundational partner, the United States, as well as Australia, Canada, Denmark, The European Union, Finland, Germany, Japan, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom,” said Ghani. Ghani said the ultimate result of Afghanistan’s work moving forward, and the ultimate benefit of our committed partnership comes when we move past the war, the poverty, and the pandemic.

“I am confident that through our combined efforts, we will be able to manifest a positive, prosperous, peaceful future for Afghanistan,” he said.

“We are now focusing on replicating self-reliance measures in the sectors of education, urban development, energy and infrastructure…. All of these key sectors are low-hanging fruits for increasing efficiency and output relatively quickly by implementing cost-cutting measures and deflating bloated bureaucracies,” Ghani said. International delegates also touched on the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and expressed hope for a diplomatic solution of the conflict. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Russia remains concerned with the deteriorating security situation especially in the north of Afghanistan.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that Pakistan continues to remain engaged with Afghanistan through bilateral, regional as well as multilateral forum. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said the world must put the people of Afghanistan before other considerations. Zarif said that peace will not be sustainable if Afghans must struggle to only survive. Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar announced an agreement on the construction of Shahtoot Dam in Kabul. The European Union pledges $1.2 billion to Afghanistan for the next four years at the Geneva conference.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said Afghanistan’s gains must be preserved and built on. Guterres urged immediate humanitarian ceasefire to save lives, curb COVID-19 impact and better atmosphere for Afghanistan peace negotiations. “We have a moment of hope when combined with enhanced economic opportunity supported by Afghanistan 2020 Conference,” the UN secretary-general said. Ignazio Cassis, Head of the Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland said at the Geneva conference that the summit is also about discussing the pathway towards future.

Josep Borrell, the EU Minister for Foreign Affairs, said violence in Afghanistan must stop, not tomorrow but by now. Josep Borrell, the EU Minister for Foreign Affairs, said women’s rights in Afghanistan must be protected. UNAMA chief Deborah Lyons said at the event that Afghans are committed to preserving their gains and for that, they need the international community’s support. Lyons says the UN will continue to support Afghans. Some donors have said that the Geneva Conference on Afghanistan can be the last one, therefore, the Afghan government needs to reach to the self-reliance targets until 2025. But experts say that with the consideration of -5 percent economic growth rate and 80 percent poverty and 45 percent of unemployment, this would be difficult for Afghanistan to get self-reliance in 2025.